Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

A crowdfunding effort which was launched to raise £3,000 for a Christmas tree for George Green after funding was pulled by Redbridge Council is on the verge of reaching its target.

The crowdfunding, which at the time of writing had raised more than £2,800, has been organised by local Conservatives who say the Labour-run council has behaved “like grinches”. Deputy leader of the council, Wes Streeting, told the Wanstead Guardian the decision was “purely financial” – and that he supported the crowdfunding drive.

The council is making budget cuts in a number of areas: it has said it is “facing the toughest financial pressures that have been seen for a generation”. The cuts have (as we’ve reported) included stopping the system of Area Committees, which will be replaced with a new system of less frequent “local forums” later in the year.

The Christmas tree has in the past been paid from a discretionary spending fund held by the area committee. The fund has also been used for various other purposes including speed gun tests on busy roads, CCTV and flowers on Wanstead High Street, part of the renovation of the High Stone, and the Wanstead Festival. It is not yet clear whether these kinds of things will continue to be funded.

The tree is traditionally illuminated in a Friday-evening ceremony attended by the mayor, complete with Salvation Army and carols, an event which is always popular with schoolchildren. Lights in trees on Wanstead High Street are already installed and will only need turning on. The tree itself is something of a festive landmark, though as the tweet below shows, does not always pass without comment.

8 thoughts on “Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree”

  1. Redbridge have an MO for predicting people will eventually bail em out when they pull funding. (I know, I work for them).just make sure there is no reference to the Council or Mayor when reporting on the lighting of the tree is published.
    Great that us in Wanstead are willing to keep this tradition alive independently.
    Should we call for a referendum? Should we declare Wanstead an independent state of Wanstonia? We tried before. .. remember the battle of the sweet chestnut tree on George Green

  2. If they can just remember to make the lights swirl round in a spiral, like the rare occasion of the year before. It looks lovely then!

  3. A very worthy initiative cheapened by unsophisticated politics.

    That said anything that raises revenue in Wanstead and spends that on a public service in Wanstead is fine with me.

    I vote for Wanstonia

  4. A great example of a local initiative. Don’t really understand why it is now necessary to suggest making all these cuts when the previous regime seemed to be able to balance their books.
    that being said, how do I make a contribution?

  5. I agree re Redbridge being bailed out by community-spirited residents. You only have to look at the example of the lady who does the guerrilla gardening in Wanstead. On that note it’ll be interesting to see the planting in the new beds round the fountain. And does anyone remember the pretty rose garden behind the old-style bus shelter on the Green side of Cambridge Park? It had nice old paving. It was removed before the M11 works were completed and was never re-instated. Does anyone have any photos?

  6. Agree with the honourable Citizen above. Good initiative but I found the accompanying flag-waving to be pretty tawdry.

    Now that the target has been exceeded they ought to demonstrate some degree of prudence in dealing with people’s contributions.

  7. I think you will find that the Councillors who are involved will be asking all those who have donated to vote for how the extra money will be spent.

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